Tuesday Terminology is a weekly segment to enlighten the masses with words, phrases, and ideals usually tacked on to today’s anime/manga scene.
This week’s topic: Tanabata
Tanabata (たなばた; 七夕)
Evening of the Seventh
It’s Summer time and there’s more to it than just the beach, the pool, and pesky Summer homework. Tanabata is a festival the Japanese celebrate, usually around July 7th, to commemorate the star-crossed love story of Orihime and Hikoboshi.
In anime and manga, the emphasis on two characters attending the Tanabata festival implies the romantic connection the two share. I’m sure you’ve all seen the cliche “confess one’s love during the fireworks, only to get overrun by the sound of said fireworks” scene. But that can be done at any Summer festival! Like I said, if a story places more emphasis upon the fact that it is Tanabata coming up, it most certainly means that there is some expected progression in the romance between the main character and the love interest.
At other times, in anime and manga stories, the event is also interpreted as a time where one makes a wish and prays that said wish will come true. Even if the wish is “For everyone to continue to stay together,” or “May he come to fall in love with me,” the action of making a wish is much like setting a goal for the future. The paper strips with wishes written on them that are hung on Bamboo leaves are called Tanzaku.
You can find a summarized version of the Orihime and Hikoboshi story here on Wikipedia.
Also, here’s a neat video from JapanesePod101.com that briefly, but just enough, talks a bit about Tanabata.